Phoenix Family News

February 5, 2021

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Important Dates Ahead...

  • February 7: Registration deadline for Learning Model Change for Trimester 3 (see district website for details)
  • February 8 & 9: NO SCHOOL for all students
  • February 12: VLA Flex Friday
  • February 15: NO SCHOOL for all students

Calendar and Schedule Updates

The latest calendar updates are available at

February Focus on Kindness

Our focus this month (and every month!) is KINDNESS. February, however, more than any other month, reminds us to be kind to our classmates, our friends, and our families. In fact, Random Acts of Kindness week is recognized specifically from February 14-20 this year.

We are working with our students this month to help them recognize that when you do something nice for someone else, it makes you feel better too. Participating in random acts of kindness release the "feel-good hormones" and boosts your levels of seratonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Like exercise, kindness toward and helping others also releases endorphins, a phenomenon known as a “helper's high.”

Don't be surprised if your children participate in random acts of kindness this month!

I Love to Read Month

February is I Love to Read Month! We at Valley Crossing love reading all year round, but we encourage students to participate in I Love to Read activities during this month. Click on this link to find a packet full of activities, including information on Adopting a Book for the Media Center, getting a public library card, voting for Minnesota Youth Reading Award titles, decorating bookmarks, and playing reading bingo! Happy reading!

Car Arrival and Dismissal Reminders

As you know, our car line is extremely long this year, and we thank you for the grace and patience you have shown as you dropoff and pickup your students. Some reminders:

  • PLEASE do not start lining up for dismissal before 3:30 pm. We have a number of staff who work Kids Club at the end of the day that are not able to enter the parking lot due to backups from people starting to line up as early as 3:00-3:15. Even with more cars in line, we have been able to get everyone in their cars by 4:00 pm
  • It is extremely helpful to pull as far forward as possible at every point in line so we can condense the line and get more cars in our parking lot.
  • Please continue to have your child enter and exit your car at the curb. As soon as your child has entered or exited your vehicle, please pull forward to allow more students to be dropped off/picked up.
  • If your child needs extra assistance, please park and meet your child at the crosswalk. For safety, we ask that parents remain on the east side of the crosswalk and your child crosses to meet you.
Thank you for helping our car line go as quickly and as smoothly as possible!


Now that our Dial Model students are back in person we are able to celebrate some birthdays in person. For this school year, in addition to no edible treats (which has been our policy for years), please do not send in any trinkets or other items for your child to pass out. We are doing our best to make sure everyone feels safe during the pandemic and the sharing of items on birthdays is going to be something that we will not be doing right now. We will make your child feel special in their classroom without sharing things with our friends. Thanks in advance for your understanding!

Friendship/Kindness Day

Many classrooms will be celebrating friendship on February 12th! Students are welcome to send in a Friendship card for each classmate. Cards can be store-bought or handmade. (Some classrooms are making them in their classroom so please refer to the emails from your classroom teachers). We are asking that no treats/candy/trinkets be sent in with the cards even if they are store bought. We recognize that a friendship type focus is what it’s all about and a party is not necessary. So, we will be focusing on friendship and how we treat each other every day. If items other than cards are sent in, we will respectfully send them back home with your child. In addition, if the friendship card comes in an envelope, please do not lick it shut. We are doing our best each and everyday to prevent illness and COVID-19 and are so happy to have our students back in school. Please follow these guidelines so that your child and all children are safe.

Need to Upload your child's Picture for the Yearbook?

Any students who were unable to participate in picture day or retake day are welcome to submit a picture for the yearbook. To preview, personalize and pay online, visit and enter event code: FE70220

For directions on uploading an individual portrait, please click on the PDF below.

Candid Yearbook Pictures Wanted!

We are making some adjustments to how we create the VCES yearbook for 2020-2021. This is an awesome opportunity that allows us to really showcase who our students are in school and out of school. To pull this off, we would really appreciate your help. Please submit any pictures you have taken of our VCES students that show what they've been up to this school year.

Some ideas to consider:

  • Pictures with pets
  • Pictures playing sports
  • Pictures doing activities
  • Pictures learning from home
  • Pictures with something they can't live without
  • Pictures of them being them

Here is the link to upload pictures. Please enter login ID 415943946. For further directions, please click on the PDF below. We greatly appreciate your contributions and hope to get as many students as possible included in the yearbook this year!

Winter Conferences

Our winter conferences will mirror the conferences that we held in the fall. Instead of having two nights dedicated to conferences as we have in the past, we will be offering a "Winter Conference Window" from February 22-March 5 for all hybrid and VLA students and families. Your child's homebase teacher will be connecting with you to set up a 15-minute time slot that works for your family to meet virtually.

We have a long-standing tradition of student-led conferences, and while we won't be having our traditional 15 minutes for you to review your child's Progressfolio, we do ask that your child be part of the 15-minute conference with the teacher to review what's going well and to set goals for the upcoming trimester.

If your child receives special education and/or EL services, case managers will also be reaching out to families to set something up, and our specialists will be having open WebEx nights if you're hoping to check in! Stay tuned for more information!

Illnesses and Absences

  • Please be sure to call in to our attendance line to report absences or illness: 651-425-7506

  • Any sick student who is sent to school, or is determined to be sick during the school day, will immediately be sent home.


  • The 14-day quarantine period will remain in place. If staff or students had close contact with an infected person, the Minnesota Department of Health may direct us to keep them out of school for a minimum of 14 days.

  • We ask that families be prepared for the possibility that their child’s class could move to distance learning at any time due to a potential COVID-19 exposure.

Vacations and Other Extended Absences

When students return to in person learning, teachers will not be posting Seesaw activities or provide live streaming for students who are on vacation or other extended absences. Homework packets and/or assignments will be put together similar to years past (non-COVID school years). If you have any questions, please contact me at or 651-425-7503.

Now Hiring!

Are you looking for something to do while your kids are at school? Or do you know someone who is looking to get into the schools? We have the following positions open!

  • Lunch/Recess Paraprofessional, 11:00 am-1:30 pm daily
​If you are interested please go to the SoWashCo district website and complete an application for this position at Valley Crossing! You can also reach out to Merita LaPlante in the office for further information.

A Quick Note from Dr. Gervais, School Social Worker

  • As many of our students return to the classroom, I will be evaluating how to balance my schedule to meet student needs at Valley and in VLA. As of now, I will dedicate one day a week to VLA or quarantined students for individual meetings and consultation with parents. I will be available Wednesday's 12:00-4:00 pm. You can view my schedule and availability online at

  • Check out my Virtual Classroom filled with fun activities to do at home.

  • Resources for Families - District 833 has a website that will link you to a variety of resources from food, mental health, and unemployment and so much more. Bookmark this page for future use:

VCES Information Links

VCES Contact Information

Connha Classon, Principal: / 651.425.7503

Kristine McDonald, Assistant Principal: / 651.425.7523

Merita LaPlante, Office Coordinator: / 651.425.7501

Jen Gackstetter, Office Assistant: / 651.425.7507

Jen Gervais, Social Worker: / 651.425.7542 (Note Change)